Thai red curry is one of my all time favorite meals, and it took me a long time to learn how to cook it well. This variation happens to have ground pork and butternut squash– squash for a celebration of the season, and pork because it compliments squash so well. Enjoy with fluffy steamed jasmine rice, all autumn and winter long!
P.S. — Curry should be eaten with a spoon, not chopsticks. I was so excited to eat this curry that I put chopsticks in the shot without thinking!
The flavor of curry relies upon the curry paste and the coconut milk, so finding makers of these products that you like is important. I like curry paste from Maesri or Mae Ploy and coconut milk by Chaokoh. Buy locally if you can and support your neighborhood Asian grocer!
Dividing the Coconut Milk
Coconut milk has a tendency to break when boiled at too high a temperature, which makes the curry look and taste very oily. Curry doesn’t really need to be heated above a high simmer/low boil, but if you happen to walk away and the curry starts boiling like crazy, the coconut milk might break. Luckily, broken coconut milk can be fixed with a little un- broken coconut milk. So, half the milk is added at the beginning, and the other half is added at the end, just incase some breakage happens in the middle.
Asian cuisine has used baking soda to enhance meats long before westerners caught wind of it. Adding baking soda to ground meat makes it tender and springy, decreases moisture loss, and aids in browning. You’ll be amazed how porky that ground pork tastes.
How About Pumpkin?
Yes! swap out the butternut squash for pumpkin, kabocha, delicata, you name it.
Curry is spicy, and I like it extra spicy. To reduce the level of spice, leave out the birds eye chilies. You may also choose to reduce the amount of curry paste.
Butternut + Pork Thai Red Curry Recipe
Butternut Squash + Pork Red Curry
- Large wok or pot
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp neutral oil or coconut oil divided
- 1-2 bird’s eye chilies sliced (optional, for additional heat)
- 1 large shallot minced (about 3 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp minced lemongrass
- 1/3 cup red curry paste I like Mae Ploy or Maesri brand
- 1-1.5 lbs butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-1.5” pieces
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice about 1 juicy lime’s worth
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2.5 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk divided
- 1 large yellow onion cut into 1/4” slices
- 1 handful Thai basil leaves roughly torn
- Prepared jasmine rice for serving
- In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork, baking soda, and sea salt. Mix with your hands, incorporating all the ingredients well.
- When the pork has been mixed, heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large wok or pot over high heat. Add the pork mixture and brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon, about 10 minutes, or until any liquid has evaporated and the pork is golden brown in spots. Transfer the pork to a clean bowl and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the remaining oil to the wok. Add the chilies, shallot, and lemongrass, and cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Add the curry paste and 1/4 cup water and stir and cook 2 minutes more.
- Add the butternut squash, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, half the coconut milk, and 2 + 3/4 cups water. Bring the curry to a simmer and maintain a simmer for 12 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
- Stir in the prepared pork, onion, basil, and remaining coconut milk. Simmer 3-4 minutes more, or until the onions are just slightly tender around the edges and the curry is warmed through. Serve over prepared jasmine rice.